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New hope for webcasters, revisited

OK, it's on now. SoundExchange issued a press release this morning making what seemed like a helpful concession to webcasters, offering to cap the minimum fees paid by multi-channel services such as Pandora and Live365. But some advocates for webcasters suspect there's a catch and that SoundExchange isn't really willing to give up the negotiating leverage that the  bankruptcy-inducing minimums provide.

In a statement issued minutes ago, Jon Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Assn. (the trade group representing many of the largest webcasters), said SoundExchange's written offer was a bit less generous. That offer would cap minimum fees until 2008 only, not through 2010, the term covered by the Copyright Royalty Board's new rates.

Any offer that doesn't cover the full term is simply a stay of execution for Internet radio," Potter said. "The looming 2009 billion-dollar threat is destabilizing and inhibits investment and growth. DiMA, like thousands of artists and millions of consumers, wants a solution that promotes long-term industry growth.  A billion-dollar 'minimum fee' is equally absurd in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 or 2010.  It should be eliminated – period."

Potter went on to say that DiMA "would prefer to resume negotiating important issues directly with our counterparts rather than through press releases." That would be a first in the webcasting royalties dispute, which has been playing to Congress and the public almost nonstop since the new rates were announced.


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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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